Provencal Potato Salad

Have you seen those mesh bags of tiny potatoes at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods? The bag includes a medley of small yellow, red, and purple potatoes, barely bigger than quail eggs. I buy them just because they are pretty, and their taste is lovely. This potato salad, typical of Provence, is like the potato portion of a Nicoise salad. You can make it with any smallish new potato, though the tiny ones like these or fingerlings are ideal. A Dijon vinaigrette is tossed with the cut potatoes when they are still warm, to help the dressing get absorbed. Capers, garlic, and parsley are tossed in as well. The salad is best if allowed to sit for several hours, as is just as good two days out as one. So it’s perfect for a make ahead get together.

The secret ingredient of the dressing is the anchovy paste. If you are familiar with the bliss that anchovies can bring to a salad dressing, you’ll know why it’s included. If you are unfamiliar with using anchovies or anchovy paste in salad dressings, I strongly urge you to try it! Believe me, it won’t make your dressing taste like fish. It will just make your mouth smile when you taste it.

Provencal Potato Salad Recipe

  • Cook time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6 to 8.

You can save time by prepping the ingredients and making the vinaigrette while the potatoes are cooking. The vinaigrette should be mixed with the potatoes while they are still warm, so the potatoes better absorb the dressing.



  • 2 lbs small waxy potatoes or fingerling potatoes (ideally those tiny potatoes that are no more than an inch or so long)
  • Salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 Tbsp capers
  • 1/4 cup green olives, sliced

Dressing ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon herbes de provence
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste (1 to 2 anchovies, mashed)
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup olive oil


1 Place the potatoes in a large pot, cover with cold water. Add 2 teaspoons of salt to the water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the potatoes until they are just tender when speared with a fork or sharp knife, 10 to 20 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes. Do not overcook. They should be a little firm.

2 While the potatoes are cooking, prep the other ingredients and make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, salt, pepper, herbes de provence, anchovy paste, and Dijon mustard. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil whisking the whole time to create an emulsion.

3 When the potatoes are ready, strain them from the pot. Let them cool just enough so you can handle them without burning your hands. Cut them into 3/4-inch to 1-inch pieces. If you have very small potatoes (pictured), cut them in half.

4 In a large bowl toss the still warm potatoes with the vinaigrette, garlic, parsley, capers and green olives. Chill for a couple of hours. Let come to room temperature to serve.

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Showing 4 of 20 Comments

  • frank

    Yummy recipe Elise. The great thing with anchovies [and other umami-rich food] is that they accentuate the flavor of the other ingredients w/o tasting “fishy”.

    Much like mushrooms, tomato paste, grilled meats and shellfish, anchovies are loaded with that umami taste/sensation.

    I chuckle when folks say they don’t like anchovies yet eat Caesar’s salad. :)

  • mary

    I love anchovies but my family does not .- Does the paste add a strong flavor? May I omit it or leave it in and hope it just enhances the dish?

    Hi Mary, the paste doesn’t add a strong flavor, it only greatly enhances the flavor of the vinaigrette. You can skip it if you want, but I highly recommend trying it. ~Elise

  • Rossella

    I think this recipe is GREAT and I’ll try it tonight :)
    Just for the record though, I strongly recommend to not let it sit for longer than 24 hours (or eat it later than that).
    Boiled potatoes are naturally quiet high in bacteria and after 24 hours these bacteria proliferate even more as the fermentation begins (just like with home made broth).I know you will store them in the fridge but even if they are not exactly noxious, they may not be suitable for sensitive intestines or smaller children.
    Plus it’s the nitrites level you don’t want to let raise in your food ;)

    The potato salad should be stored in the refrigerator. ~Elise

  • daveg

    This does sound excellent, and a nice sneaky way to slip some anchovy appreciation under the radar of my family’s food sensibilities.

    Herbes de provence is an unfamiliar blend to me. I do not keep it among my spices, only the more common things like thyme, oregano, basil, sage, dill, etc. Could you suggest any substitutes, or are there elements you feel are essential there?

    p.s. you have a typo in the instructions of “hermes” for “hermes”

    Thanks for the typo catch, it’s been corrected! Herbes de Provence is sort of like Italian seasoning, but with a French twist. Typical mixtures include thyme, rosemary, summer savory, and dried lavender flowers. ~Elise

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